The State government will study the largescale violation of building by-laws in City Municipal Council limits around Bangalore, Chief Minister Dharam Singh said on Wednesday. The study has been prompted by the floods and human misery witnessed in the CMC areas in the last few days due to encroachment of lake beds and natural drains, he said. “We will look into why it happened... On what basis the CMCs sanctioned the buildings on the lakes, ” the chief minister said.
Also, Bangalore roads to get a facelift with help from the Centre. The word 'facelift' is chosen well. It describes what they were getting thus far and what they could expect to get in the future. They were definitely not getting a comprehensive rejuvenation package. They could do without the facelift at all. It will only mean more money landing in the pockets of the shamelessly corrupt authorities and contractors.
Bangalore Mannina Maga!
Sir, I have been watching the political life of Mr Deve Gowda after he lost the prime ministership and can only pity him. As an ex-prime minister, he is expected to air his comments on international and national issues. On the contrary most of the time his concern seems to be real estate in and around Bangalore, so much so that he crusaded the exit of eminent people from important agencies. The people of Karnataka lost the services of Mr Jayakar Jerome soon after Mr Deve Gowda formed the government with Congress. Now it is Mr Narayana Murthy.
Mr Gowda calls himself a “Mannina Maga”. Does ‘mannu’ refer only to the land in and around Bangalore?
SUBBU HEGDE Bangalore
Update: Rain records broken. And Mr Gowda did attend.
Meanwhile, IT.in kicks off tomorrow. The picture is presented in all seriousness I suppose. Though the one in DH's print version is better - it is in color and makes the contrast between the building and the water funnier. Note the chief guest's name too.
Tangentially, we always hear about the effect we may be having on the environment. But what about the effect on cows? Today morning, driving during the morning rush hour, I saw a cow hurrying along beside the rest of the cars and two-wheelers. It had started to rain, again. The cow was alone and there was no apparent reason for it to be running. But there it was running, head bowed, with an expression exactly like someone late for work. Strange.
Then there was this mini-truck driver. He had a wiper in his hand, his hand pushed out throught the driver's window, wiping the windshield with the broken wiper as he drove. And finally, the traffic cops earning their, very bad by all accounts, pay. What a thankless job they have.
1. The alleged 'malicious campaign' against him by 'some quarters' in the IT Industry. An reference most probably to Infosys. The whole things explains itself then as a grudge against the company.
2. Apprehension on his part that he (and the politicians in general) may lose control to the people.
3. Something that actually occurred during the original meeting which blew his lid off.
Reading today's DH article, linked above, my antenna pointed towards No. 3 again, since the presentation on local government for urban areas seems to have been only one of the topics discussed. Mr Gowda:
“I had also asked him for his suggestions on what is best for Bangalore – the Bangalore Metro, monorail or ELRTS. In what way have I hurt him?”So he asked Mr Murthy about the metro rail. But why the second setence? It is well-known that Mr Gowda has been against the Metro rail and in favour of the monorail. Did he try to get a endorsement from Mr Murthy for the monorail, but was rebuffed and did that get his hackles up?
Further down the article this occurred - No. 1 this time.
Barring Infosys, no other IT company in the city was interfering in the State’s administration. This is because some officials and vested interests had invested in Infosys, he alleged.The second sentence can be safely ignored - whatever the 'officials and vested interests' do or don't, their investment is safe. Nothing they do is going to affect the company. It is too big for them. He is basically complaining against Infosys. And some 'quarters in the IT ind.' are, as he seems to think, indulging in 'malicious campaigning'. Thus No. 1.
Or probably it is a mix of all three. Who knows?
He makes a new point in the article - that Infosys has asked some land in Yelahanka and that this will render many farmers landless. It would be good to hear what the farmers themselves have to say. And I wonder how many have already sold their land to real estate developers. Anekal farmers started the process of selling their land some time ago. I know. I had been to see some of it myself last year.
It is the turn of BDA and BMP next. Mr Gowda believes in giving sufficient notice before he strikes. The Bangalore Development Authority and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike better watch out:
Today, I have discussed issues of infrastructure and airport; next will be BMP, BDA.Update: Adding reason No. 4 which is : Alll this is the result of Infosys getting caught up in politics unintentionally, or more corrrectly, with good intentions. Going back to the days of the S M Krishna government, one recalls the erstwhile BATF and also that Nandan Nilekani (CEO of Infosys) was associated with it. His intentions must have been entirely blameless - to contribute his mite to Bangalore with the help of a progressive Chief Miniser. As it happens, Mr Krishna and Deve Gowda are close to being sworn enemies of each other. And in addition, Janaagraha too got going during those days, and Nandan was associated with that too (along with others). Unfortunately, S M Krishna was voted out. And your enemy's friend is your enemy. Infosys is left out in the cold now, at least where Mr Gowda is concerned.
Update 2: Reason No. 5: Mr Gowda is doing this to gain political capital - comes across as a common man's fearless hero by taking on renowned companies and personalities.
Update 3: Read this post from another blog (link via Amit Varma).
While you are there, note this contract which is also trading - OSAMA.CAPTURE.DEC05 (Osama Bin Laden to be captured/neutralised by 31 December 2005). The bid is 5.6 - that is, a probability of 5.6% of him being captured by that date.
Whether anything will come of it or not, it leads one to ask - what exactly pricked the big man during the meeting that day? There must have been something. Apart from all the "malicious campaign" by the IT companies against his party. Why else would he wake up so suddenly to the land issue?
The crux of the matter is that a spell in government changes the outlook and approach of party members and leaders, especially if they had been in the wilderness for long, as in the case of the BJP top brass. But while the Congress had taken over two decades to be reduced to that position, the BJP lost its morale and ethos after just six years in government.It digs (a bit deeply) into the history of the Congress and comes up with instances of dissidence - and concludes:
A more crucial question in this context is whether a divergence of opinion in a party is unhealthy per se and its absence should therefore be celebrated.
If ... a party struggles to practise internal democracy and a periodical change of leadership and suffers a setback in the process, it is not its end. It can be a new beginning, in fact.I agree. I came to the same conclusion before reading this article. Still, there is a difference. The instances he quotes were surely not played out so openly and surely not with such bitterness. And this is after all the party with a difference. Iron discipline and all that I mean.
...the screening test and the main examination have been selecting the same 4,000 students since 2000, the study found.
A day after a close-door meeting with Infosys chief mentor Narayana Murthy, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda ridiculed Mr Murthy for his suggestion on urban governance ...Let's try to enumerate the problems with his statements.
At a press conference in Bangalore on Sunday, Mr Gowda was critical of Mr Murthy’s suggestion for shifting the focus in the State to urban governance and setting up urban bodies on the lines of grama sabhas. Mr Gowda remarked that “the views of high-profile and elite personalities are different from ground reality.” Mr Gowda wondered if Mr Murthy knew the problems of rural life.
He also sought comparison of employment generated by such companies including Infosys, which have taken government land, with other IT firms like Wipro, HP and IBM which have not been provided any government land.
Mr Gowda said: “I am sure companies like Wipro, Intel, Accenture, IBM, HP and Honeywell, which have not been allotted government land and functioning mostly in rented buildings, account for more than 85 per cent jobs provided by the IT firms in Bangalore.”
He alleged that a number of companies, including a few IT firms, had not fully utilised the government land allotted to them to preserve the land for real estate purpose.
1. Just saying that "high-profile" and "elite" personalities (as he puts it) are not aware of the ground realities is not enough. He needs to specify what exactly are the facts on the ground that make the proposal ineffective. The presentation was by Ramesh Ramanathan of Janaagraha who has been working extremely closely with the government and local bodies for more than five years. What exactly has eluded him that hasn't escaped Deve Gowda?
Let's see what the proposal was. From the previous day's DH:
Mr Ramanathan mooted the concept of urban citizen bodies, wherein citizens would have a greater say in urban governance. He also made a strong pitch for urban decentralisation and a “credible coordination mechanism” between civic agencies.I don't see anything elitist in that. Mr Ramanathan has been putting out these ideas for sometime now. Here and here for instance. He also has the figures: With a population of 3.2 crores, rural Karnataka has 84,168 representatives - at the zilla, taluk, gram panchayat levels. With 1.7 crore people, urban Karnataka has 5,023 representatives - at the city corporation, city municipal corporation, town municipal council, and town panchayat levels. That is a representative for every 380 rural persons, but one for every 3,400 urbal persons. 100 rimes more representation in the rural areas than at the urban areas. As he puts it:
The Infosys chief said today Bangalore was hobbled by myriad problems. Tomorrow, it could be the turn of smaller cities like Mysore and Hubli. “We need to think beyond infrastructure and Bangalore. We need to tackle urban issues such as poor quality of life, housing, education, water and sanitation. We need to put our heads together, look ahead and plan accordingly,” Mr Murthy told reporters after the meeting. Mr Murthy said Karnataka had a concrete system for rural governance, but lacked the same for urban areas. He felt the economic opportunities in cities could be leveraged by putting in place a robust structure for urban governance.
Measured one way, the distance between citizens and their elected representatives is almost 10 times greater in urban areas than rural Karnataka; in Bangalore, 100 times greater, explaining the relative anonymity of local governments in towns and cities.So where is the problem with this idea? What are the realities that intrude?
In addition to this, the gram sabha in the rural areas has got legitimacy, if not actual on-the-ground usage, with the idea that every registered voter should participate in decision-making. In contrast, the urban areas have a concept of the wards committee, hampered by the combination of a debatable nomination process, limited citizen representation and an ambiguous mandate.
2. He asks if Mr Murthy knows the problems of rural life. Not relevant to this conversation. I don't think Mr Murthy is suggesting that the government ignore rural areas. He is suggesting a way to ease the urban situation. The two need not be mutually exclusive.
3. He links the land allegedly "given" by the government to Infosys to the employment generated by the latter. I give up on this one. I don't understand what he is trying to say.
4. His accusation that "some" IT companies are playing the real estate game on the side too doesn't make too much sense. Are these individuals in the companies making hay? I can't believe that. On the other hand, if it is the entire company making killings in the real estate market - that does not hold much water either. A $2 billion company doesn't need to make a few crores on land. It has no material impact on anything.
So one can only conclude that Mr Gowda is talking through his hat. But it is not hard to see where this angst comes from :
He alleged that there was a systematic malicious campaign from some quarters in the IT sector to brand the coalition government as anti-IT and one with no interest to improve Bangalore infrastructure.Politicking as usual.
Reading this news report on the front page of DH today I was reminded of one thing. In the preface to Volume 1 of Anton Chekhov's short stories by Raduga Publications, Maxim Gorky recalls his impressions of Chekhov. In it he recounts a visit of a government prosecutor to Chekhov at his house. The prosecutor begins by trying to engage Chekhov with his analysis of one of Chekhov's characters. Realising that he is putting it on, Chekhov switches to lighter topics which really engage the prosecutor. After the prosecutor leaves, Chekhov says this about him (a bit unfairly according to me):
"And it's pimples like that on the backside of justice who dispose of the destinies of men."
One would be hardpressed to think of something which would make the above description not fit people like Mr Gowda.
I have only one question: have they lost all sense of what is right?
- Those who objected to India hobnobbing with Iran [but] had no problem with the accord itself because they believe that President Bush can do no wrong.
- The non-proliferation lobby that is not afraid to speak out against Mr Bush and, of course, against the Indo-US agreement.
- Then there are sarkari academics analysing the world’s trouble spots for the good of their country, either having worked for the government or hoping to work. They are shocked by the Indo-US agreement because they had never expected it.
"the presence of very large arsenals raises the possibility of India and Pakistan sharing their nuclear weapons with other states, perhaps by extending a protective umbrella over them or simply giving them to other states.”Full testimony here. Read it. It is definitely interesting - some facts and figures, sometimes down to earth, sometimes peppered with sudden bursts of imagination like the suggestion of India's space program being suddenly diverted for military purposes and used to 'blind' US satellites!
Lesson 4—It is better to work from the front foot than be cornered into these positions: allowing participation is not only morally right, it is also strategically useful. Citizens today are getting away with taking pot-shots at government, with no accountability of their own, either in taking tough decisions on reforms, or in being honest participants in public services. For example, one of the sore points in the power crisis is the 50% power theft. While the responsibility to ensure compliance is the service providers’, in a society where contractual enforcement will take time, local stakeholders can exert far more pressure than a discom. Being completely open also allows the government to demand responsibility from citizens and constructive solutions from critics, rather than allow procedural criticism to obfuscate fundamental reform debate.Exactly. Someone has already said it - we get the government we deserve. We as a people are challenged (as in mentally challenged, visually challenged) when it comes to doing the right thing - we break traffic rules, building rules, evade taxes, steal power, sell borewell water on the sly, dump waste at the street corner. Who knows, many a politicians may be saying: "Look at these people, they break rules themselves, and they expect us to be upright. People are all inherently bad, corrupt, and interested only in themselves and their families. They have no time to think of the public good. I've completely lost faith in them".
Maybe we as people need to change along with or before the politicians change.
She still cannot prevent the occasional slip like this, but that's ok I guess:
Had they paid attention then instead of slums in Chembur there would have been affordable housing for the poor. Instead of evil slum lords there would have been legitimate real estate companies controlling the housing market.Right. Slum lords evil. Real estate companies pure as the driven snow. Tell us another one please.
A sharp increase in the number of road accidents resulting in more than 90,000 deaths in the country has given India the dubious distinction of accounting for 10 per cent of the world’s total road accident deaths, highest for any country.
Lastest research shows that every day in China at least 300 people are killed in traffic accidents, ranking the country top in the world for both the death toll and the death rate. And the figure is accelerating by 10 percent every year.
... in 2001 [the figure for all accidents] had leapt to 750,000. Last year the figure was more than 770,000, with 110,000 people losing their lives and 560,000 injured.